From the Editors’ Desk

Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

As you can see in our author photo, this is the first-ever edition of Memo to Members brought to you by not one, but two lead editors!

For this very special edition, we bring you not only a mega-newsletter being overseen by two editors, but also a groundbreaking announcement from our president, Alex Garcia. Keep reading for more!

Also in this edition, Michele L. writes about how (after much hard work and time on her part) our chapter has kicked off in-person meetups in the Tampa Bay area!

Furthermore, after another successful annual joint Future Technical Communicators (FTC)/STC meeting at the University of Central Florida (UCF), six STC student members bring you a play-by-play recap of every progression-style venue topic.

President Alex Garcia recognizes Education Committee Chair Dan Voss for his valuable service.

By the way, we would like to give a special shout-out to Dan Voss for his receipt of a 2017 Chapter Service Award at the February meeting. Way to go, Dan, and thanks for pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into the success of this chapter for the past two decades and then some! After the next twenty years, we shall petition the Orlando mayor to erect a statue in your honor outside of City Hall. 😉

And finally, we would like to remind you of this month’s meeting—another annual tradition. That’s right: it’s time for our Annual Employment Panel meeting! We encourage you to join us this Thursday, March 22nd, for a question and answer session about all things tech comm employment/career development with our three esteemed panelists:

  • Jack Molisani, ProSpring Technical Staffing
  • Scott Dorsett, Riptide Software
  • Mark Wray, University of Central Florida

Please click here to RSVP.


Sincerest thanks for reading,

Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells
Editors, Memo To Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
President
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

What a momentous past couple of weeks, as I saw not one, but two of my presidential visions come to life. First, your Chapter’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) has softly launched. The LDP, carefully driven by Education Committee Co-Chair Dan Voss and Chapter Historian Mike Murray (both STC Fellows), was an idea I have been toying with for years. The reality of life is that as people retire and leave organizations, certain intangibles leave with them. There is a formidable set of STC Fellows and Senior Members in your Chapter who possess organizational knowledge and leadership skills that need to be passed down. At the same time, our mentoring program has harvested the cream of the crop of less experienced Technical Communicators, who continue to step up into Chapter leadership. The time is now for a knowledge transfer to commence—before that knowledge drives off in a Winnebago. Stay tuned in the months to come for updates about the progress of this monumental program.

Secondly, and most importantly… 

“Members and Friends of the Florida Chapter STC…” That has a pretty nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Well, everyone, it is OFFICIAL! The STC Board of Directors has approved your Orlando Central Florida Chapter’s evolution into the Florida Chapter STC. This endeavor is about 18 months in the making, since your Chapter merged with the Suncoast Chapter (and really since 2012 when we welcomed the Space Tech Chapter into our fold). After our investment in capabilities to share your Chapter’s programs and resources with members throughout Florida, we are very grateful that STC has ratified your Chapter’s name change, and we believe it will allow professional communicators to grow wherever they live in Florida. Please bookmark your Chapter’s new website address: www.stcflorida.org.

Leveraging on his 45 years of Communications experience with Lockheed Martin, I asked W.C. Wiese to pen a press release announcing this momentous occasion. It appears below:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Contact:

20 March 2018                                                                     W.C. Wiese (407) 356-4792                                                                                                       gt6pilot@aol.com

STC Announces Expanded Professional Resource
for Technical Communicators in Florida

Recognizing the outreach initiatives of its only professional chapter in Florida, the Board of Directors of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) has renamed the Orlando Central Florida Chapter as the Florida Chapter. The new name recognizes an expanded service area and a dynamic change in the way local chapter operates.

For years, the former Orlando Central Florida Chapter has provided programming and leadership for professionals beyond the Orange/Seminole County area. By implementing local subgroups and offering them access to budget resources, the Chapter now serves professionals in other parts of the state, including Tampa Bay, the Space Coast, and Jacksonville. Outreach continues to ensure that members in South Florida, and outside of Florida in some cases, feel a greater connection to STC and have access to educational resources.

The Chapter has been recognized nine times as a Chapter of Distinction—STC’s highest recognition.

STC is the world’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication. The Society’s members span the field of the technical communication profession and reach across every industry and continent. Through a growing global community, the Society and its members set global standards and provide professional certification for technical communicators. Information about STC can be found on its website at www.stc.org. Information about the Florida Chapter is available on its website at http://www.stcflorida.org.

Tampa Bay Tech Comm Meetup

By: Michele L.
STC Member
Florida Chapter, STC

With an abundance of free online content and social networking options, people no longer must meet face-to-face to exchange information. This can cause a perceived lack of value in face-to-face meetups, which is causing participation in professional associations around the world to decline. Online communities, however, are thriving.  Therefore, if organizations are to survive, they must adapt to meet the needs of their members.

As STC faces this challenge, the STC Florida Chapter is searching for new ways to retain members and provide outreach for those of us who live too far away to attend a face-to-face chapter meeting. One experiment the chapter is conducting is to use the power of an online networking site, Meetup, to bring people together in person. Meetup is free to join, and anyone can establish a group for like-minded individuals.

The Tampa Bay Tech Comm Meetup group rotates meetings around the central west coast of Florida.  We post a lunch or after work location on the site several weeks in advance and invite anyone to join us. Placing a sign on the table identifies our group to newcomers. There is no agenda or speaker, just an opportunity for attendees to share a meal or beverage with like-minded professionals. This creates a less stressful environment for those who plan the meetings, present at meetings, and clean up afterwards.  By keeping the gatherings short and rotating them around the area, anyone interested in technical communication can join.

At a recent lunch in Tampa, we went around the table, introduced ourselves, and talked about our latest work projects as well as the upcoming STC Summit. One attendee was looking for a graphic designer; another wanted to know more about using DITA. A college student talked about her post-college plans.

If our group is successful, Meetups could be held around the state, giving all technical communicators the chance to network in person and stay connected to the statewide chapter without having to travel to Orlando. This would provide a lifeline to smaller communities who can no longer support an STC chapter but crave a local connection.

Left to Right from back: Michele L., Alex S., Lindsey K., Gillian K., Alexandra C., Gen W. Photo courtesy of Michele L.

February Meeting Recap – Purple Venue

Four Young Rising Stars Will Represent the Florida Chapter
at the 2018 STC Summit in Orlando


Misty Arner

By: Misty Arner
FTC Student Mentoring Program Co-Manager
Florida Chapter, STC

In case you missed us in the University of Central Florida Student Union on February 13, once again, we have successfully held another STC Florida Chapter monthly meeting.

At the “Royal” Purple Venue, four of the Florida Chapter’s young Rising Stars previewed the two presentations they are making at this year’s STC Summit in Orlando. Both presentations support the Summit theme: Communicating the Future. The first, scheduled for Leadership Day on Sunday, May 20, is Forging the Future: Tips and Tools for (Re)Building Your STC Community. The second—an Education Session slated for 2:10-3:00 PM on Monday—is Fueling Your Future: STC Experience Builds Professional Leadership Skills.

Alex Garcia, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, and Bethany Aguad presented a preview of the topics covered in both presentations to illustrate how taking advantage of leadership opportunities as young professionals within STC translates directly into leadership positions on the job.

Alex and Crystal described the Florida Chapter’s robust Active Membership Program, which informs strategic planning as well as encourages our members to take pride in their profession, which in turn helps us identify potential leaders.  They announced the newly renamed Florida Chapter of STC, a new statewide community model that combines face-to-face and virtual meetings.  They discussed the chapter’s Leadership Retreat, held at UCF, every Summer, where we introduce new leaders and discuss opportunities.  This event is open to all members.  In addition, the Florida Chapter holds Administrative Council (AdCo) meetings where we run our chapter business, monitor the budget, check the quality of program management, and set short-term goals.  Both the Leadership Retreat and AdCo meetings allow for strategic planning and successful tactical execution.  Alex and Crystal summarized how using STC’s Community Achievement Awards (CAA) strengthen the community, not to mention how wonderful it is to gain CAA recognition.

Nick and Bethany examined the Florida Chapter’s student mentoring program with UCF, and the benefits it provides to both students and the society academically and professionally.  They presented a brief overview of the college scholarships and fundraising strategies.  The Florida Chapter offers the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship at UCF and the Suncoast Scholarship at USF that identify talent and offer advancement in the profession.  The Florida Chapter also offers a Leadership Development Program, which diversifies skills and cultivates the next generation of leaders.  Finally, Nick Ducharme and Bethany Aguad shared the success of our Memo to Members newsletter that reaches out to our community to engage members and recruit potential members.

We are excited to be hosting the 65th Anniversary and 2018 Society for Technical Communication Summit at the Hyatt Regency right here in sunny Orlando from May 20-23. To find out more about the Florida Chapter and the programs that will help fuel your future and the future of the Society for Technical Communication, visit our website!

Alex Garcia, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, and Bethany Aguad preview their Summit presentations to an eager audience.
Photo by W.C. Wiese

February Meeting Recap – Blue Venue

What Policies, Procedures, and SIGs Have to Offer Technical Communicators


Alexandra Engrand

By: Alexandra Engrand
Nominating Chair
Florida Chapter, STC

Dawnell Claessen is a senior policy analyst specializing in risk management and security compliance for the United States Department of Defense. At this year’s annual meeting, Dawnell gave a preview of her May Summit topics, “Policies & Procedures: Communicate the Future” and “STC Special Interest Groups (SIGs)—Discover, Explore, and Get your Foot in the (Virtual) Door,” which she will be presenting with two co-presenters, Emily Kowal and Ann Marie Queeney. Unfortunately, Kowal and Queeney could not attend the meeting.

Dawnell’s Summit presentation will focus on skills that future Policy Analysists, Procedure Writers, and Process Specialists will find most helpful. Attendees of Dawnell’s preview learned that the way policies and procedures have been done has not changed in a very long time, largely due to the legalities surrounding them, but as we move into a more technology-based age, this is slowly starting to change. Dawnell told her listeners a story that demonstrated how policies and procedures are evolving.

Dawnell’s place of work did not, at the time of the story, have a dress code. Instead of setting one themselves, the company asked its employees what they thought the dress code should be. A survey was set up using an internal social media channel for employees to leave their comments on. With a little help from the legal department, a dress code was set that everyone was happy with. This was a first for Dawnell. A policy left up to the employees to decide—especially employees who were not all part of the legal or human resources departments—was not something she had ever witnessed before, but is the perfect example to accompany her presentation, as it shows that policy and procedure-making are changing with the times.

The second half of Dawnell’s preview focused on STC’s many SIGs, each of which is “composed of STC members with common experiences and interests” who have chosen to share their knowledge with fellow STC members. Dawnell presented her listeners with a handout detailing some of the commonalities found amongst the SIGs, some of which include:

  • An online presence, typically including social media
  • Email listservs
  • Educational opportunities, such as webinars and classes
  • Targeted presentations at the Summit

Dawnell also included a list of STC’s SIGs with links to each, some of which include :

For the complete list, see STC’s Communities page.

Dawnell Claessen previews her Summit presentation for a member of FTC.
Photo by W.C. Weise

February Meeting Recap – Burgundy Venue

The Art of Networking


Nicole Garcia

By: Nicole Garcia
FTC Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

Students looking to enter the job market hear the word over and over again. Some dread it, and some openly embrace it. Yet, what is there to the art of “networking?”

Debra Johnson guided students through the maze of networking in her February 13th presentation, titled How to Network Effectively with Professionals and Put Your Best Foot Forward … at the Summit, at STC Meetings, and in the Workplace. With students gathered around the table, Debra emphasized the importance of professional networking groups while alleviating fears behind the weighty word.

Debra began her presentation by stressing the numerous opportunities students have to network in college. “There’s never going to be a time quite like college, when you’re surrounded by thousands of amazingly smart and interesting people,” she says, “so get to know the people you think will change the world someday.” At the same time, Johnson reassured students that networking isn’t nearly as hard as it looks; most people are very willing to talk about their careers and passions. She offered the idea of a “cold email,” where students can inquire about jobs with curiosity and respect, and discussed meeting with professors for further information. “If there’s a subject area you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to go to professors in that field; they love talking about their work and meeting young people who are just as interested.” Debra also said there is great value in even the seemingly small part-time jobs and internships many students take for granted. “Today’s barista is tomorrow’s high-powered ad executive, so don’t discount anybody along the way. Use your time at work to get to know people and ask questions.”

Debra demystified the networking process for many anxious students by encouraging them to look for networking opportunities in places they may have overlooked. Debra affirmed that as long as students are willing to offer ideas, ask questions, and listen, they will find that the networking process is a lot easier than they had previously thought.

Debra Johnson reveals secrets to networking effectively.

February Meeting Recap – Red Venue

Write to Win: Proposal Writing Strategies


Carolynn M. Torres Colon

By: Carolynn M. Torres Colon
FTC Secretary
Florida Chapter, STC

At the Red Venue, long-time STC member Dan Voss offered tips in a presentation titled “How to Write a Winning Proposal: Close Only Counts in Nuclear War and Horseshoes.” Along with proposal writing tips, Dan also explained things young professionals can do on a day-to-day basis to succeed at their jobs.

Dan demonstrated that writing an effective resume and building an impressive portfolio are a form of proposal writing. Trying to appeal to a future employer is similar to a proposal in that you should be sure your skills and experience align well with the job description.

“Basically, you are proposing yourself to a prospective employer,” Dan said. “In so doing, you must show not only that your qualifications meet the requirements for the job, but also that you will add business value to the organization.”

One of the most important tips I thought Dan provided was to explain the acronym “SWOT,” which means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These are some of the components a proposal writer should take into consideration when showing how the proposal meets the demands of the client. Knowing the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as one’s own strengths and weaknesses, provides an outline to effectively develop a persuasive and successful proposal.

Dan explained how knowing when to take the opportunity to learn and understand the entirety of an issue can put the proposal writer at an advantage over the competition. He also addressed the need to be alert for any threats that come from the competition and even possible ethical issues that can come in to play when writing a proposal.

Another tip for a proposal writer is to make sure that claims and substantiating data are consistent throughout the proposal, as “inconsistencies erode your credibility.”

Dan presented a final tip concerning the importance of openly acknowledging any weaknesses along with a plan for correcting them, rather than trying to hide them. He feels that “telling the truth is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.” As a writer, do not deduce that the competition and the client are not aware of these weaknesses, as in “the proposal business, that is generally not a wise assumption.”

Red Venue host Dan Voss shares war stories from a 40-year career writing competitive aerospace proposals.
Photo by W.C. Wiese

February Meeting Recap – Green Venue

Career Tips from a Veteran


Nick Mina

By: Nicholas Mina
FTC Treasurer
Florida Chapter, STC

“Would you hire this guy?” W.C. Wiese asked the table, referring to a picture of himself as a young man. The table laughed, understanding that the young man in the picture would soon spend a successful 45 years in the Technical Communication field.

W.C. Wiese began his presentation by explaining the origins of his career. He started at Lockheed Martin (Martin Marietta, as it was called at the time) writing technical manuals and proposals. Writing departments were made up of dozens of people, and the publishing process was just as complicated as the writing itself. W.C. explained that he almost left the company a few years into his tenure because of a few self-serving supervisors and a copious amount of overtime hours. For a young professional, being told on Friday afternoon that you’d be working through the weekend was not an optimal situation. Despite these hardships, however, W.C. stuck it out and continued his career at Lockheed Martin.

Over the years, the writing departments became smaller, and the publishing industry became faster and more efficient. W.C. put proposal writing behind him and joined the Lockheed Martin/MEADS communications department, where he spent the rest of his career, rising through the ranks. W.C., who retired as Communications Manager in November 2017, credits the length of his tenure to his ability to stay relevant and useful. For example, W.C. started a daily newsletter for his coworkers and company. Yet, he didn’t stop there. He also made sure to keep it updated and valuable to the office over the years. Moves of initiative (like the newsletter) made sure that W.C. Wiese remained a valued and important member of the team, a point he stressed to his audience at the table. W.C. ended his presentation with questions from his listeners. Based on the reaction from the table, it’s safe to say that W.C. offered everyone valuable career lessons that go far beyond the college classroom.

W.C. Wiese regales technical communication students and veterans alike with stories of his historic career.
Photo by Emily Wells

 

February Meeting Recap – Gold Venue

What Technical Communication Strategies, Skills, and Opportunities to Seek During Your Climb to the Summit


Andy Romero

By: Andy Romero
FTC President
Florida Chapter, STC

This year, active STC members Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme presented an outstanding session on how young professionals can successfully excel in the first years of their technical communication careers, and on what to expect in various workplaces. Using a rising to the summit metaphor, Bethany and Nick emphasized how to reach your goals within your technical communication field and what is needed to stay ahead on your climb to success. They broke up these strategies and tips into three different topics: Training and Equipment for Your Climb, Reaching the Summit, and Ready for Your Next Climb?

To begin, Bethany and Nick spoke about how the Technical Communication degree can aid in strategizing how to work effectively within a workplace. However, there are various fields and many topics that need to be studied to increase your work experience. In doing so, there are always chances to continue your education and consider a masters in Technical Communication or an MBA. This can broaden opportunities for employment and is considered very valuable in the workforce. To continue, Nick and Bethany spoke about self-confidence and learning from your strengths and weaknesses as a student and employee. Identifying your weaknesses can always result in more improvement, and while the first years on the job can be overwhelming, “everyone starts on the same base of the mountain.”

Next, the duo touched base on getting a sense of the technical knowledge being used and on analyzing processes as a newcomer to a workplace. These topics advised to never be afraid to ask questions and to express your thoughts if ideas come up on different ways of improving the workflow. It is always advantageous for processes to be looked at with a “fresh set of eyes” so that things can be made better. Some other tips on work performance were to actively participate in meetings. This included: preparing for meetings, letting your voice be heard, appropriately communicating your opinion, and not monopolizing the conversation.  This lets other employees know that you are actively participating in the discussion and that you have a genuine interest in the work you are performing.

Additionally, Nick and Bethany discussed the importance of interviewing your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and developing time management skills. They shed light on how getting noticed by your SMEs and being prepared for the unexpected with schedules and delivery dates are paramount to successfully becoming a technical communicator.

Next, Bethany and Nick moved on to the subject of Reaching the Summit. Here they discussed company culture and how to work in a team-oriented environment. Thriving in this type of environment includes communicating effectively with your team and excelling under good leadership. They also reflected on the importance of performance reviews and competition “during the climb.” Nick and Bethany suggested starting a performance log, so you and your employer have the opportunity to go over your milestones and accomplishments throughout the year during a performance review. This can set you apart from the competition and help differentiate yourself from other technical communicators in your field. Keeping a record of these activities can also aid in recognizing strengths and weaknesses that can be improved throughout your time of employment.

Finally, the team talked about how to get ready for your next climb. Some of these talking points included tips on how to get promoted, specializing and career progressions, and expanding your professional career horizons. Nick and Bethany did not forget to mention the importance of FTC and STC involvement and the benefits of attending the STC annual Summit Conference in Orlando, as these can lead to valuable academic and professional networking opportunities and leadership positions.

Overall, the dynamic duo gave an insightful and encouraging presentation on how to effectively begin your first years in a technical communication career field. Bethany and Nick also gave students great advice on how to appropriately write emails, how to address your higher-ups, and how to specialize yourself in your career field. They provided strategies on how to tackle the hardest of challenges when coming into a new work setting and how to grow within your profession and the company as well.

Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme share their experiences and tips on how to successfully navigate through the first years of a technical communication career.
Photo by: Emily Wells

Upcoming STC Webinars

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Memo to Members. Meanwhile, here are some webinars you can consider attending over the next month or so…


Nurturing Future STEM Communicators in the Healthcare Field

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Creating, mentoring and nurturing future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) communication enthusiasts, to interpret and decipher mind, body and soul of medical science and healthcare, among general, wider audiences. The new generation of STEM communicators will simplify complex and technical medical information in a simple and effective way, to patients and their family members, to reap benefits of vast healthcare knowledge!


TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp Asynchronous

Monday, 26 March 2018 – Monday, 7 May 2018

This is an Asynchronous (self-paced) course. Attendees will be able to complete the course at their own paced and complete deadlines without meeting for live sessions every week. Technical communication is an exciting and challenging career that offers unlimited opportunity for professional development. But to succeed, it’s not enough to learn a desktop publishing or Help authoring tool—you need to master the analysis process. This is a thinking person’s dream career! TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp is the fastest, most efficient way to jump-start your career in technical communication.ÊIt covers key theory that you can immediately apply to your work. It also gives you the skills you need to continue to learn and grow. Each element of theory is presented with hands-on exercises, real-world examples, and plenty of discussion. The course is sure to leave you feeling enthusiastic and well prepared to get started in the field


Improving Content Quality by Using Automated Tools

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

This session is designed to empower content development teams to run automated tests and improve the quality of their deliverables. With a bit of code, anyone can build tools that identify common content nits. Learning objectives: – Discover that common tasks can be automated – Describe tooling that can be used to develop automation – Apply the outlined methodology to make automation goals achievable – Collect code examples that can be built upon – Find education and support

Telemedicine: Implementation and Implications for TC

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Telemedicine is a new, modern medical system integrating medical facilities, physicians, patients, communications, and technology. Albeit many benefits to telemedicine, there are several barriers to implementation and patient and consumer uptake. Technical communicators’ consideration for usability, audience, context, and affect in their creation and delivery of health and medical communications enables them to offer significant contributions to the e-health field, both in scholarly research and developing more effective communications that can impact global health and medical care.

Proposal Writing in Context

Thursday, 5 April 2018 – Thursday, 10 May 2018

Proposal writing can be lucrative and fun work, but there are many different types of proposals and many different recommendations for writing them, so it can be difficult to know where to start. This course introduces professional writers to different types of funded proposals and explains different methods for writing proposals well. From analysis to writing to editing, this course explains some fundamental concepts that apply to most funded proposal types, so you can understand the context for how proposals operate and how writers write them.

Nine Writers, Nine Agile Teams, One Voice

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Nine writers on nine Agile teams, plus API docs, internal and developer documentation, tutorial videos, and maintenance? It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it’s day-to-day life for cPanel’s 10-person documentation department. This session will outline how we use specialized workflows, a peer review process, and a writer-as-developer mindset to produce quality documentation without stepping on each other’s toes or drowning in the waterfall.

Introduction to Science Writing

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 – Wednesday, 16 May 2018

This is an Asynchronous online course and there is no time range. All attendees must complete this course within the 6-week timeframe. The focus of this class will be writing material that popularizes or presents scientific information to general audiences. This is important for those who are exploring science writing as a career or for those of you who are exploring content marketing, public relations or writing for general audiences. The writing strengths that are demanded in this area – maintaining reader interest and providing understanding of very complex subject matter – will carry over into all of our writing efforts and in the professional setting beyond this class

Using Web Analytics to Improve Content Effectiveness

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

New delivery channels mean new tools to make our jobs easier. Web Analytics is one of those tools. When we deliver content online, Web Analytics can become the voice of our user for any content delivered in a browser or app. By analyzing analytics data, we can tell what people are looking for; what they are staying and reading; and when they are thrashing around in our content, unable to find the answers that they need.

Four Ways to Make Your Copywriting Persuasive

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

This webinar will address how to motivate readers and how to bust myths that lead to the creation of clichéd and tired content. Attendees will gain awareness of why used-car sales pitches do not get results in our modern world. Main points covered will focus on how to cut meaningless phrases, how to use numbers to show readers specifics, how to get to the point, and, finally, the importance of focusing on value.

Please take advantage of these great webinars. 🙂